I hate these characters.
I have compiled a list of my all time least-favourite sidekick ratings grabbers. Do you agree? How much do you hate these creatures? Are there any that I missed? Leave me a comment or two!
The second Fantastic Four television series was produced by DePatie-Freleng in 1978. The popular rumour was that the producers didn't want children to mimic the Human Torch's ability to light himself on fire so they cut him from the show. The real reason was that Marvel optioned his character out to another film company to do a solo movie. The Torch's replacement was a robot created by Mr. Fantastic called H.E.R.B.I.E. (Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-type, Integrated Electronics). He went along on all the mission as was a vast source of information and handy tools.
The character was designed by comic legend Jack Kirby and was voiced by Frank Welker. Many fans hated this character not only because he replaced the Human Torch, but also because he was played up as a "cute" character that turned out to be me more annoying than anything else. HERBIE has since gone on to appear many times in the comicbooks.
I know that HERBIE doesn't fit the criteria. He wasn't created to boost ratings. But, gosh darn it, he's annoying.
It's a bad sign when a studio feels the need to create a new character because the title character doesn't have enough character. The Godzilla franchise was going strong and Hanna-Barbera wanted to cash in on the success by bring their animated spin on the monstrous legend. But the stories were too serious. The Godzilla Power Hour needed something to lighten to mood.
Enter: Godzooky, Godzilla's nephew. Godzooky was just slightly bigger than the humans and had wings that allowed him to fly. Don Messik provided the dog-like noises he made. He was a useless character and often got in the way or caused the episode's problem in the first place. He was way to cute for his own good and if I were Godzilla, I'd use my laser eyes to send him back to the middle of the Atlantic.
Bat-Mite first appeared in Batman comicbook in 1959 but disappeared in 1964. People realized early on that Bat-Mite was overly annoying and totally stupid. Unfortunately, Filmation thought that he could boost ratings on their second Batman animated series, The New Adventures of Batman & Robin.
In this series, Bat-Mite, voiced by Filmation Executive Producer Lou Scheimer, is a magical imp who happens to be Batman's biggest fan. He even makes his own 'Batsuit' and wears it all the time. While he meant well and really wanted to help the Caped Crusader, he really only got in the way and caused more problems for the duo. I always wondered why the three of them seemed to have a good chuckle at the end of the episodes. I'm sure Batman could figure out a way to get rid of him for good.
The Great Gazoo
At the beginning of The Flintstones' sixth season, ratings were so low that the Hanna-Barbera producers and writers felt that something needed to be changed. They created an alien being from the future called the Great Gazoo, voiced by Harvey Korman, who was exiled to Earth for inventing a doomsday weapon. Gazoo is only visible to Fred and Barney (and their children) which causes many problems as he pops up at the most inappropriate moments when other are around. He often tries to help but usually ends up making matters worse.
I see the Great Gazoo as one of the very first sidekick ratings boosters. The show was cancelled at the end of that season and many say that it was the fault of the Not-So-Great Gazoo but the ratings were so low before he appeared that it's hard to say whether Gazoo made any difference at all. But what is for certain is that Gazoo is ultra-annoying and didn't make any sense in the show what so ever.
If you ask any fan of Scooby-Doo I'm sure you will also hear them say how much they hate Scooby's nephew, Scrappy-Doo.
In 1978, rating were getting low and ABC was threatening to cancel Scooby-Doo. Hanna-Barbera was already trying new things to keep the show alive, such as having the gang fight real supernatural monsters rather than just people in costumes. But when they created the super obnoxious Scrappy-Doo ratings actually went up! So they retooled the show to focus more on Scrappy and less on Scooby. Bad move.
The reason people watched Scooby-Doo is because they wanted to see Scooby-Doo. When the screen time is filled this loud-talking lame-brain it's no wonder people think of Scrappy-Doo as the downfall of the Scooby-Doo franchise.